AGARTALA: Work on the all important 12.24 km India-Bangladesh new railway line is progressing at a snail's pace on both sides of the border, more than 11 years after the around Rs 1,000 crore project was finalized between the Prime Ministers of the two countries.
Tripura government's Principal Secretary in-charge of the Transport Department, Sriram Taranikanti said that the first phase work on the Indian (Tripura) side of the project would be completed this year and the second phase would be finished by June next year. "According to the project implementing engineers, the progress of the work in the Bangladesh side is very slow. Only 50 per cent work on the Bangladesh side has been completed and there is no information when the remaining work on the other side of the border would be completed," Taranikanti said.
He said that after the completion of the Agartala (India)-Akhaura (Bangladesh) railway project, Tripura and other north-eastern States would not only be connected with the Bangladesh railway network, the region would be linked with the Chittagong international sea port of that country.
"Cost and time would be saved greatly in ferrying goods and heavy machinery between the north-eastern region and the rest of the country and abroad using the Bangladesh railway network and ports," he said.
Union Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Minister BL Verma on Thursday visited the Agartala-Akhaura railway project and asked the IRCON, Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) and engineers and officials to step up the pace so that the entire work on the Indian side can be completed by June 2022 without further delay.
The government-owned IRCON, under the Ministry of Railways, has been executing the project for which the Development of North Eastern Region Ministry and India's Ministry External Affairs (MEA) are bearing the entire cost (Rs 1,000 crore) of the project on either side. The Agartala-Akhaura railway line will facilitate ferrying of goods to and from both the countries and greatly benefit India's land-locked north-eastern States.
"The fresh target of completion of the project on the Indian side has been re-scheduled to June 2022," a top official said. The official, refusing to be named, said that linking with the existing Agartala railway station, of the 12.24 km India-Bangladesh new railway line, 5.46 km railway track would be laid in India (on the outskirts of the capital city Agartala) and 6.78 km railway line would be placed on the Bangladesh side.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) is the nodal agency of the Agartala-Akhaura railway project, which was finalized in January 2010 when Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina met then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during her visit to New Delhi. Currently, India and Bangladesh have four rail links with West Bengal. The existing railway line in the mountainous terrain from Guwahati passes through Lumding in Nagaon district (in central Assam) and southern Assam connecting Agartala and parts of Manipur and Mizoram with the rest of the country. (IANS)